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Technology Commercialization and Partnerships Division

Reduced waste process for the extraction of cellulose nanocrystals from Miscanthus x. Giganteus (ANL-IN-18-002)

A novel process for producing Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNCs) at industrial scale with minimal waste

Cellulose Nanocrystals are of considerable interest for a number of industrial applications, but commercial adoption has been impeded by the high cost of producing them at scale.

This invention is a scalable process for the production of CNCs at industrial scale, with a significant reduction in capital and operating expenses over current alternatives. This novel process is optimized for the use with high-consistency pulp, is intensified, and incorporates resonant acoustic mixing.

The invention represents the first industrial-scale process for the production of CNCs from biomass and the first use of combined bleach generation, bleaching, and hydrolysis steps.

The invention embodies the method of mixing in a single reaction vessel a cellulose pulp, an acidic solution; and sodium chlorite, wherein the sodium chlorite reacts to form a bleaching agent, chlorine dioxide, wherein bleaching and acid hydrolysis of the cellulose pulp occurs in the single reaction vessel. Additionally, the invention embodies the method of mixing with a resonant acoustic mixer a high consistency cellulose pulp with an acidic solution in a reaction vessel. Related methods, compositions, and articles of manufacture are also covered in this invention.